“I believe you,” she said, nodding.
“Thank you,” he said, though he didn’t entirely relax. His eyes slid over to Caelan.
Caelan looked back at him with a slightly surprised expression. “Have you already forgotten what I said this morning? I’m not leaving.”
Now Zeke let out a sigh of relief. Caelan released Beth’s hand, which she hadn’t realised he’d been holding onto. He stood up and went over to Zeke, folding his arms around his shoulders. Zeke’s arms curled around Caelan’s waist, his head resting against his abdomen.
After a second, Beth stood and went over, putting her arms around the two of them on a whim. Both Caelan and Zeke made room for her in their hug, putting one arm each around her.
That was when she decided that these two men were two of her most favourite people in the whole wide world, despite not having known them very long.
“I love you guys, you know,” Beth said quietly.
She could hear the grin in Caelan’s voice: “We love you too, Beth. Even at five o’clock in the morning.”
Beth was lying down on the couch, stretched all out on it, with Elandra sat on her stomach. The two of them were watching Finding Nemo.
It was nearing lunch time and a few hours previously Caelan had received a message from Aaralyn, saying that she’d settled in okay and that she’d be back in a month or so.
“Why did Mummy go?” Ellie asked absent-mindedly, her eyes glued to the large screen.
“Why? Well, she just needed some space, that’s all. She’s gone to see her mummy and daddy.”
“Does she still love me?”
“Of course!” Beth reached for the remote and paused the film. “Ellie, why would you ask that?”
“Because, Emma’s daddy left her mummy and Emma’s mummy said it was because he didn’t love them anymore.”
“That’s different. Mummy still loves Daddy, but she just needs a break from him. He’s really worried about everything.”
“About Uncle Robert.”
“Yeah, about Uncle Robert. And Caelan, too, I think.”
“You mean, Caelan and Zeke? Does it mean that Zeke is my uncle too?” the young girl asked, looking over at Beth.
Beth frowned. “How do you know about that?”
“Kallie told me. I’m happy. I like Zeke, he’s nice to me.”
“Well how did Kallie know?”
“I think she heard Mummy talking about it.”
“Oh, right. Have you spoken to Caelan about it?”
Ellie shook her head. “He’s always busy.”
“He’s not too busy for his little sister, I’m sure.”
She shrugged. “Don’t know.”
“You just need to ask to talk to him, that’s all.”
Elandra nodded and turned back to the television, so Beth pressed the play button on the remote. And that was the end of that conversation.
“Can we go and see Mummy soon? Just you and me?” Ellie asked.
“Yeah, of course, Ellie. We can do whatever you want.”